Kate Reads

Practice Makes Perfect - Julie James I've only recently gotten into contemporary romance novels, and I'm still not 100% sure I like the genre. I will admit I have liked Julie James' books far more than others, but I also may be biased because they are generally set in Chicago, and I have a thing for books set in Chicago.Anyway, after reading Practice Makes Perfect, I found myself wondering what exactly it is about contemporaries as a whole that bothers me. It isn't an outright annoyance, but more an annoying feeling at the back of my consciousness as I read. Romance novels all follow the same plot line, more or less, and have pretty stock characters, so why does setting matter so much? Then it occurred to me- in a historical romance, I expect an "old school" alpha male, because in all honesty, men were kind of dense and clueless and they looked down on women- it is just a fact of the time period. I'm not saying this is great behavior, or that I would appreciate it in real life, but it is easier for me to believe, and not think the hero is such an asshole.However, when you take those stock characters- the dense, clueless men who look down on women- and put them in modern times, they generally come off as misogynistic and insulting. Which is frustrating, because I like a strong alpha male type as much as the next girl, but at the same time, I'd like them to be smart and respect women as well. I don't think the two things are mutually exclusive. James does a good job of creating heros who don't come off as total asses. For the most part, I liked J.D., though I'll admit he did a few things that made me want to not like him (calling Payton a "feminazi, for example), he did change for the better as the book went on, and the transformation was more or less believable, and didn't seem too out of character. However, the one thing that really drove me up a wall, and which seemed like an unnecessary plot point was the backstory of J.D. telling their boss that he and Payton had slept together. That made me really really want to hate him, and I felt like she forgave him way too easily. That made me a bit angry. I feel like the plot could have done without that, because there was enough tension as it was.One of my biggest issues with the book was the nature of the conflict set up between the two characters. Not only did it seem ridiculously implausible (though, I will admit to not knowing anything about law firms) but I couldn't anticipate an ending which would have made me happy. Obviously, there was a happy ending (it is a romance novel) and maybe it was clear to other readers, but I didn't especially like the tension leading up to it. A lot of that is because the conflict became a general men vs women conflict, and not a J.D. vs Payton conflict. All in all, I did enjoy Practice Makes Perfect, and breezed through it. It was a fun read, and like her other books, I liked the interactions between the main characters.If you haven't read anything of James', I would suggest starting with the FBI series first. But if you have read her books before, you will likely enjoy this one.